To the Emerald Isle

Our next mile builder sailing trip starts Saturday and we have a place left. We leave Troon on Saturday and will probably run across to Arran for the night or down to Girvan before heading across to Ballycastle (in picture) Rathlin or Glenarm or PortPatrick and then south possibly by way of the Isle of Man which we have seen on several of our RYA mile building courses this year but not actually stopped at.

We work on ‘praise in public, b*****k in private’ and it gives me pleasure to record how helpful the staff at Troon Yacht Haven have been during our summer there. Marinas vary and there are some really good ones but the team at Troon have been outstanding, we shall be in next time we are on our way back south from the 3 Peaks Yacht Race.

Special Offer

We have lost one of the team for the first leg of Irish Rover Mile Builder which starts on 25th August at Troon (easy for Glasgow airport or train) and finishes 31st at Dun Laoghaire near Dublin (easy for Dublin airport). I always like to have 4 on board for RYA Mile building sailing trips so a special offer at half price–£195.

We will visit several ports possibly including Ballycastle in the picture with Fairhead in the background.

New RYA Courses

Pic as a camera was dropped during team photo before a Sydney to Hobart—Not a reaction to our new RYA courses for September and October published 2 days ago. 2 bookings already for the 2nd course in October, one Comp Crew and one regular building miles for Yachtmaster. October is a great time for RYA courses as it is still warm (sea normally warmest on 21st September)low rainfall, everywhere open but days short enough that we can get our night hours in without sleep deprivation.

A welcome e-mail

We have been busy running RYA Mile builder courses and mile building sailing trips so haven’t done many Competent Crew or Day Skipper ones this summer.

One of my gripes is about Sea Schools not running courses properly and this summer I had 2 people on board who had Day Skipper but who’s Log Books clearly indicated the guidance issued to instructors had not been followed. We really do try to completely cover the syllabus and the following e-mail from 2 students shows why….

Just a quick note from Susan and me to thank you for the excellent training on both my day skipper and subsequently Susan’s competent crew training- it certainly has been beneficial . Last week we brought our new boat Sambuca of Ichenor ( new to us that is !) a Southerley 28 home from an extremely tidal mud berth in the upper reaches of Portsmouth to our location in Poole . We cannot overstate how much the training on Wild Spirit helped us to deal with what was actually an incredibly fraught and stressful collection without a single cross word or disagreement during the entire journey. Testament indeed to the benefits of good preparation and training. In all, we dealt with getting her out of the inaccessible mud marina at the highest point of the tide at 2100 on a Friday night with less than 6 inches of water under the keel and no higher tide for two weeks- on a boat that has been on the hard for two years. and which currently has no working depth sounder. It was a little stressful . This was followed by our arrival into Gosport Marina where upon returning from paying for the marina fee we stepped down into the cabin to discovered an electrical fire where the stop solenoid on the engine had shorted out and set fire to the cabling, destroying the solenoid and wiring back to the control panel ( Susan knew where the fire extinguishers were – we had briefed before departure ) Whilst jury rigging a solution to get us home and figuring out how I was going to stop the motor once it was running ,we then discovered a significant diesel leak ( of course emanating from the only piece of copper pipe in the entire system that I had not replaced before launching the boat). Our romantic dinner in Portsmouth was hastily substituted for a Pizza delivery and a warm beer whilst I hung upside down in the bilges stemming the flow to an acceptable drip with tape , spanners and mole grips . Next morning as per our training we were up significantly before our planned departure awaiting the favorable tide to take us over to Yarmouth, as trained VHF on , At this point Portsmouth harbormaster informed that HMS Queen Elizabeth was on her way in and that due to the 250 m exclusion zone the harbor would be closed at 8 AM for two hours. Susan had the boat prepared and we slipped from the marina in less than 10 minutes (coffee mugs still in hand ) and made our transit at the Cenotaph in plenty of time.. Due to lack of wind we motored most of the way finding ourselves off Yarmouth by 11 AM, After a quick consultation and a check of the tides we decided to push on for Poole where I could make proper repairs. Leaving the Needles Channel the wind came up on the beam we shut down the engine ( decompressors and a rubber glove required !) and had a . . . → Read More: A welcome e-mail

Man Overboard

Here we are practising recovering a MOB during a RYA course. It is warm and little breeze so it is easy. In the Volvo Round Ireland there was a real MOB on another yacht in the dark and nasty seas. They soon recovered him and continued racing. On RYA competent crew and Day Skipper courses plus mile builders I am often asked what our standard procedure is for MOB. The answer is good judgement by a skilled operator and so whilst you can practise on RYA courses and mile building sailing real life is different. Most of the written training material I have seen says ‘Turn the boat round’ which is normally a good call at sea but in my experience more MOBs happen in Marinas than open water.


Whether it is on one of our RYA milebuilder cruises or a RYA course we try and go somewhere a little bit special and Portpatrick in the photo is one of my favourites. We will probably call in on the first leg of our ‘Irish Rover’ trip at the end of August. After we return to Lymington in September we have a few RYA Competent Crew and Day Skipper courses coming up the first starts Friday evening 5th October and I will schedule more courses and mile building sailing next week.

3 Peaks Yacht Race report

3 Peaks Yacht Race 2018—Winners plus Line Honours and King of the Mountains

Starting in Barmouth and finishing near Fort William the original Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the oldest and most remarkable multi-sport endurance races in the world. It draws competitors from all sporting backgrounds & with sailing experience from off-shore cruising to round-the-world races. Sailing & sports clubs, military & company teams all enter & compete on equal terms.

Heading North I had first met Steve and the Irish team for the 3 peaks yacht race in Greystones Marina whilst taking Wild Spirit round from Lymington to Troon, which was to be our base for summer 2018. Steve wanted to pick my brains about the race, which didn’t take long, and I was interested in their preparations which involved new instruments and a very well turned out racing yacht.

The new secret weapon Barmouth was much the same as last time except sunny. Our preparations were behind as the University hadn’t built the new prototype pedal power unit designed by an MSc in time. So Shelf had knocked one up using the leg of an outboard and his wife’s old bike plus an electric drill bit connected with a flexible drive.

He was still working on it when I was asked to talk to a group of school children about the race. They asked the right questions and were clearly amused by Shelf’s impression of a mad inventor. At the end one asked will you win? I replied probably not and the Irish were the team to follow; prophetic words.

Crossing the Bar, The Three Peaks is a tough race with serious tidal gates and the second one is Caernarfon Bar which had stopped us dead in 2017 alongside 2 other yachts. Before this there was the YC Bar as well which we negotiated with care. The new pedal powered unit was very much a prototype and the gearing ratios were experimental, as we joined the parade out to the start in a rush we had not hoisted it from the water and it set off pedalling itself off the prop, designed to produce half a knot it was now operating at 7 and rotating with such vigour that we had to stop Wild Spirit to enable safe retrieval.

The start was reasonably good without needing to row, one unusual feature of this race is that you can row (or pedal) and in 2017 we rowed about 20 miles. The run up to Bardsey sound was without incident but the wind was dying and rowing was required, the pedal powered unit was briefly deployed and stayed with us through the race but any extra it gave us probably didn’t make up for its weight.

With little wind we struggled on, night fell and dawn came with Bardsey still insight We could see Baloo doing well in close to the shore but we had no way of getting there. The sun rose, the breeze came and we crossed Caernarfon Bar under spinnaker and sailed to the ‘engine on point’ then motored in to drop off the two runners.

Spinnaker run A few repairs a quick shop, half an hours rest and then back to pick the runners up. Most years we go north through the Swellies but the tide was just turning against us and there was a northerly wind. No one has won the race going round the outside of Anglesey before, we were first away; decision time. We went round but first we motored back to the engine off mark . . . → Read More: 3 Peaks Yacht Race report

Over the Sea to Skye

28th July to 11th August sees our big cruise this year with St Kilda as the destination. We will also try and take in Skye (in photo) and several other of the outer Hebrides. This is a RYA Milebuilder trip and you can expect to be very much involved in sailing Wild Spirit helping navigate etc. We have 4 experienced team members on board so we can take a keen novice. Likely to be a night sail at some stage and a chance to see some spectacular scenery. This is the last of our mile building sailing in Scotland before we set off back south over 3 one week trips.

When the going gets tough…

Picture shows our Aussie team on the way to first in Division in Sydney to Hobart in about 30 kts of breeze.

The difference between offshore racing such as the Fastnet and coastal racing is about being able to hide when the going gets tough. We do both Caostal (includes cross channel) and offshore races plus occaisionally an Ocean one.

If you are interested in starting races consider our race to Cherbourg in September and bear in mind the sea is at its warmest on 21st September. It helps if you have done a RYA course plus some mile building sailing but it is really about attitude and whether you are up for it.